The Queen of Versailles

Documentary chronicles a crystal bubble bursting

So what? My cat has a chair like that.
So what? My cat has a chair like that.

Sometimes the universe just hands you a gift: When Lauren Greenfield begins filming the Siegels, David and Jacqueline (he’s a time share baron, she is his 30 years younger wife and mother of seven of his children), it’s because they’re constructing their own version of Versailles in Florida—90,000 square feet, the largest house in America. Then the recession comes, construction is halted with the house half-finished, and one of the richest men in the world—he claims he “personally” helped George W. Bush win his second term, but he can’t say how “because it’s possibly not legal” (!)—begins losing everything. Jackie, a good-natured former engineer from upstate New York who’s Phoebe Buffay with breast implants and even worse fashion sense, has a big shopping addiction and maybe a bigger heart. The excess is astonishing and infuriating—even as the Siegels lay off 6,000 employees, even as they have to fire 19 of 23 staff members, even as they list Versailles for $75 million—but a very specialized slice of Americana that proves nobody is untouchable, there’s no life too big to tear down.

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